Reviews for J.K. Rowling’s first book outside of the renowned Harry Potter series were lukewarm at best.
“The Causal Vacancy” is set in the small town of Pagford, England. Far from the teenage suspense of Hogwarts, it is raw and painstakingly real. There is rape, drug addiction, domestic abuse and deceit mixed with selfishness to flavor. It is definitely an adult fiction work.
However, like “Harry Potter,” its pages are lined with intricate backstories that dive deep into the characters’ lives, making the tragedies even more difficult to stomach.
With mean third-person omniscient thoughts critically narrating each relationship dynamic, I often found myself questioning if this was in fact a work of fiction and not a stolen diary.
Personally, I’ve always had a little bit of trouble reading Rowling’s work. Around every corner, there is another tangent that steepens the literature’s complexity and, frankly, makes for a mind-numbing experience.
The book opens with community favorite Barry Fairbrother’s death, sparking the fight for his casually vacated seat on the parish council. Maybe it’s my interest in politics, but the brutality in the private lives of traditional Pagford men and women, middle-aged couples and their 16-year-old children woven together with small-town politics drew me in, and I finished the book with a vengeance.
Yes, it is hard to get past those first few pages, but knowing the story is worth the struggle.
Lucky for all the would-be readers out there, BBC One plans to carry the burden by premiering “The Casual Vacancy” as a miniseries in the United Kingdom on Feb. 15, so you can train your eyes to the television. Sadly, the miniseries won’t be making it stateside on HBO until April 29, but I couldn’t be more excited to see it play out.
From the barrage of F-words and premarital sex to the eye rolls and lack of website security, this book was meant to be performed.
Rowling said she thought it wasn’t “a very filmable book” because of all the internal dialogue in a 2012 interview with USA Today, but a miniseries is different.
With stories such as those of AMC’s “Madmen” and “Breaking Bad” setting a quality precedent, I think BBC One will be able to redeem the plotline of “The Casual Vacancy” in its adaptation, giving Rowling’s work the justice it deserves.
Produced by Rowling herself, the miniseries reunites several actors from the “Harry Potter” movies, including Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore, as the antagonistic yet jolly Howard Mollison.
The miniseries will be broken into three one-hour segments. The first two segments will air consecutively 7 – 9 p.m. April 29, and the third will air at 7 p.m. the following night.
“The Casual Vacancy” is not only worth adding to your summer reading list, but I would bet that its adaptation would also be worth tuning into at the earliest opportunity—without resorting to piracy, of course.